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Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23


Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens

Theory of Volition in Peri Archon
Lisa R. Holliday
Appalachian State University, 1089 Old Belk Library,
Department of History, Boone, NC 28608, USA

Though the list of Origens mistakes varies among authors, perhaps one of the most
notorious accusations is that he proposed salvation for the devil, despite his protestations to the contrary. Though in PArch his discussion of Satan is secondary to his larger
aims, Origen does provide evidence that validates his claim that the devil could not be
saved, especially in his exploration of volition. By considering the devil within Origens
stance on volition and the nature of the soul, it is clear that while the devil technically
retained the possibility of salvation, he did not wish to attain it, due to the degree to
which he pursued his own desires.
Origen, salvation, apokatastasis, free will, volition, nature, Satan

I. Introduction
Origens works were controversial, even during his own lifetime, and perhaps none more so than his work Peri Archon. Here, Origen oered his
views on topics about which the church did not have clearly established
doctrines. Working within these parameters, Origen speculated about such
things as bodily resurrection, the fall, and methods of biblical interpretation.1 His aims were not to provide denitive answers, but to oer alternatives and possibilities. To this end, Origen roamed freely over a variety of
topics and often did not linger to clarify his use of terminology or to

PArch, Preface, 4 (SC 252). See also, Joseph W. Trigg, Origen (London and New York:
Routledge, 1998): 18-23. For this citation and those following, I also consulted the translation of G.W. Butterworth, Origen on First Principles (Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1973).
Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009

DOI: 10.1163/157007208X312725

L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

explain himself in more depth.2 As a result, his critics found ample ground
to question him and accuse him of heretical teachings. In addition, the
nature of PArch made it dicult for his supporters to defend him, and
Origen himself wrote several letters contending his orthodoxy. Ultimately,
he was unable to refute the accusations successfully, and they persisted
until well after his death, becoming distorted with Origenism.3
Though the list of Origens mistakes varies among authors, perhaps one
of the most notorious accusations is that he proposed salvation for the
devil. This claim appears shortly following the publication of PArch in the
lost Dialogus cum Candido, which purported to be an account of a debate
that took place between Origen and Candidus. In Jeromes summary of
the debate, it is clear that Candidus sought to trap Origen into misspeaking about the question of the devils nature: Adserit Candidus diabolum
pessimae esse naturae et quae salvari numquam possit.4 According to Jerome,
Origens response typies the technical roots of the debate, the devils
choice, not his substance, was the cause of his fall: Contra hoc recte Origenes
respondit non eum periturae esse substantiae, sed uoluntate propria corruisse et
posse salvari.5
Despite Origens protestations, salvation for the devil was a natural conclusion for many, both then and now.6 His own eschatological schema as

For a fuller discussion, see Henri Crouzel, Origen Trans. A.S. Worrall (San Francisco,
Harper & Row, 1989): chapter 9, and as it relates to the preexistence of souls, Marguerite
Harl, La Prexistence des mes dans loeuvre dOrigene in Le Dchirement du Sens:
tudes sur lhermneutique chrtienne dOrigne Grgoire de Nysse (Institute dtudes
Augustiniennes, Paris, 1993): 262-3.
Origen refers to these accusations in the Letter to Friends at Alexandria, preserved in
Runus Adult (SC 464). For the charges brought against Origen at the Fifth Ecumenical
Council, see Justinian, Ep. ad Mennam. B. Drewery highlights the questionable addition of
Origens name to the Three Chapters, and thus, the tradition of Origens condemnation by
Justinian (The Condemnation of Origen: Should it be Reversed? Origeniana Tertia
(Rome: Edizioni DellAteneo, 1981): 276). See also Cyril Richardson, The Condemnation of Origen Church History 6 (1937): 50-64, Elizabeth Clark, The Origenist Controversy:
The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1992), and Henri Crouzels introduction to the Sources Chrtiennes edition of the
PArch (SC 252).
Jerome, Con Ruf 2,19 (SC 303): Candidus claims the devil is of an evil nature, and he
cannot be saved. See also, Pierre Nautin, Origne: Sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris: Beauchesne,
1977): 169-170.
Ibid. Against this, Origen rightly responds he is not of perishable substance, but because
of his own desire, he fell and can be saved.
Henri de Lubac contends in his introduction to Butterworths translation of PArch that
Origen did claim the devil would be saved in the nal restoration, though he would not be

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon

outlined in PArch supported the interpretation that the devil could be

saved because of two principles: 1.) at the end of successive cycles of reincarnation, God will be all in all;7 2.) and though the devil could choose
goodness, he did not desire it.8 The confusion that ensued over Origens
theories stems from several issues. As Origen himself notes in the preface,
PArch is a work about unanswered questions, but it is not intended necessarily to supply answers. Secondly, in keeping with this, Origens references
to the devil are not intended to be thorough.9 He mentions the devil mostly
in passing, with little elaboration. In addition, his discussion is dispersed
throughout PArch and not conned to one section. Lastly, returning to the
aims of PArch, it is grounded in the intellectual discussions of the second
and third centuries, particularly those at Alexandria. As such, it is dicult
to understand outside of this framework.
However, there can be no question about whether or not Origen
intended to propose salvation for the devil: he himself said that such a
claim was madness.10 A better and more accurate question would be, did
he inadvertently suggest it? Though in PArch his discussion of Satan is
secondary to his larger aims, Origen does provide evidence that validates
his claim that the devil could not be saved, especially in his exploration of
volition and nature. It is here that Origens views on the devil should be
evaluated. By considering the devil within Origens stance on volition and
the nature of the soul, it is clear that while the devil technically retained the
possibility of salvation, he did not wish to attain it, due to the degree to
which he pursued his own desires.

the devil as such and that Origens own logic forced him to admit that at least theoretically,
it was possible for the devil to be saved (Origen: On First Principles (Gloucester: Peter
Smith, 1973: xxxix-xl). Crouzel holds that, The clearest assertion of the salvation of the
Devil, although it is not absolutely explicit, is found in the Treatise on First Principles.
(Origen, 262).
This phrase appears in 1 Cor 15:28 and throughout PArch, especially 3,6 (SC 268). See
Crouzel, Origen, 262 and 265. For a brief history of the as it relates to
salvation for the devil, see C.A. Patrides, The Salvation of Satan Journal of the History of
Ideas 28 (1967): 467-478.
PArch 1,8,3 (SC 252), Jerome, Con Ruf 2,6-7 (SC 303), and Runus, Adult 16
(SC 464).
See Crouzel, Origen (167) for a discussion of Origens technique in PArch.
Runus, Adult 6,8-14 (SC 464).

L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

II. Runus Translation and Context

Any analysis of PArch is complicated by the state of the extant source,
which exists partly in Runus Latin translation and in the Greek Philokalia of Basil and Gregory.11 Runus is the only full translation, and he
admittedly altered the text, arguing that it had been interpolated.12 Secondarily, in his attention to capturing the spirit of what Origen said (or
intended to say). Runus overlooked the technical terminology that Origen employed and made many subtle changes.13 Runus is limited to a
degree by his lack of knowledge of third century philosophy, and his substitutions, paraphrases, and elaborations disregard what are sometimes key
points. Whether this was a deliberate act or a mistranslation, Runus is a
dubious source at times.14
While Origens often unqualied use of philosophical vocabulary does
not always clarify his point, turning to a broader philosophical context for
the meanings of his terms may well help to illuminate some of the murkier
aspects and potential inconsistencies of PArch. However, the issue of technical or philosophical terminology raises other problems. Tracing Origens
use of philosophical vocabulary is a daunting endeavor. Origen seldom
mentions philosophers by name, with the exception of Celsus. In addition,
as Gregory Thaumaturgus noted, Origen encouraged his students to study
all philosophies (except Epicureanism) and to use them to the extent that
they aided in exegesis.15 Origen himself followed his own advice; he does

In addition, Jerome preserves several lengthy quotes, as does Justinian in his Ep. ad Mennam. However, the latter is questionable in its accuracy. The fragments preserved in Jerome
support those in the Philokalia. For a fuller discussion and comparative charts, see Gustav
Bardy, Recherches sur lhistoire du texte et des versions latines du De Principiis dOrigne (Paris:
douard Champion: 1923).
See Runus Prologue to PArch, (SC 268), Adult (SC 464), the Apol of Pamphilus
(SC 464), and Jerome, Con Ruf (SC 303).
J.M. Rist, The Greek and Latin Texts in De Principiis Book III, Origeniana, ed. Henri
Couzel, Gennaro Lomiento and Josep Rius-Camps (Bari, Instituto di Letterature Cristiana
Antica, 1975): 97-111. In the same volume, see also Henri Crouzel, Comparaisons prcises entre les fragments du Peri Archn selon la Philocalie et la traduction de Run, 113-121.
Crouzel holds that though there are dierences between Runus translation and the Philokalia, Runus paraphrase attempts to stay true to the original text (121).
Rist, 109-110. See also, Ronnie J. Rombs, A Note on the Status of Origens De Principiis in English Vigiliae Christianae 61 (2007): 23-25. Rombs, citing Crouzel and Rist,
notes that while Runus translation is hampered by paraphrases and elaborations, he did
not deliberately alter Origens meaning except regarding Trinitarian doctrine.
Gregory Thaumaturgus, Pan 10, 3 (SC 148).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon

not adhere to any one philosophical school, but blends views from many
Any analysis of volition in PArch should be read with these limitations
in mind. To mitigate Runus inuence on the translation, the best starting point is book III of PArch, preserved in Greek, which contains Origens
discussion of volition. Also, establishing the context of Origens arguments
in philosophical discussions of the second and third centuries will aid in
understanding his use of terminology.

III. Freedom and Volition

As noted above, the question of the devils salvation is confounded by two
assertions of Origen: rst, that the devil could choose good, but does not
desire it; and second, that at the nal restoration, God will be all in all.
Both address the ability of the devil to admit or choose goodness. The
fundamental issue is volition: the ability of the devil to choose, his desire
to choose, and what he can choose. Thus, in order to explore Origens
assertion that the devil could choose goodness, but did not desire it, one
must begin with the origin of this statement, which is not with the birth
of evil, but with the powers of the soul. For Origen, the ability of the soul
to choose its own course is an inherent property of souls.
In book III of PArch, Origen begins his discussion by stating that his
intention is to explore , in particular by dening it, and its
role in volition. He begins with a discussion of movement through
, a type of instinct which, for instance, would guide a spider to
produce a web or a bird a nest and can be incited by external causes.16 In
animals that are rational, there is a reasoning faculty that judges the
and incites action according to whether the action is virtuous
or not. While these are not occasioned by man, man is able to
respond to them. Also, they do not produce motion in and of themselves,
but movement is a result of the rational choice. However, and
external causes can result in action only if the reason assents.17 Thus, when
PArch 3,1,2 (SC 268). For an excellent discussion of external stimuli and ,
see D.K.W. Modrak, Alexander on Phantasia: A Hopeless muddle or a better account?
in Ancient Minds, ed. J. Ellis, Southern Journal of Philosophy, v31, Supplement (1993):
PArch, 3,1,1-4 (SC 268). Origens initial discussion in book III of PArch often is taken
as a Stoic explication of mans freedom. Indeed, Epictetus wrote a treatise on ;

L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

man is presented with , there is deliberation before action in

order to determine if the impulse () to act is for good or evil.
According to Origen, desire is itself inuenced by a type of inborn longing (ineabili desiderio) inherent to man to know the causes of the world.18
To this end, mans actions reect his intellectual pursuit of God. However,
this longing does not determine mans actions because man can choose to
contemplate things other than God. The initial fall of man was a result of
this: souls became weary of contemplation and fell accordingly.19 However,
once one has chosen evil (in this sense, to pursue something other than
contemplation of God), not only has one become susceptible to inuence
from Satan and demons, but, one is more likely to act in that manner.
There are two types of desire in Origens works: a generic desire (
)20 and a desire to know the cause of things ().21 To will or
desire ( ) is a general ability granted to all souls, and is directed
towards neither good nor evil.22 It is a property or an ability of the soul,
however, as a Stoic, his use of the term is in concert with developments in later Stoicism
that emphasized the need for mans responsibility in some of his own actions (as opposed
to all actions being determined by nature). Origen, though familiar with Epictetus anthropological structure, denies that man acts as a result of nature (PArch 3,1,5-6). See Jackson,
Sources of Origens Doctrine of Freedom Church History 35 (1996): 20. In contrast,
Gould notes that Origens summary of assent is Stoicizing. (The Stoic Concept of Fate
Journal of the History of Ideas 35 (1978): 22.) However, it should be noted that the Stoics
were one of several groups which supported various types of determinism. See also, R. W.
Sharples, Alexander of Aphrodisias, De Fato: Some Parallels The Classical Quarterly, New
Series 28 (1978): 243-266 and Carlo Natali, Responsability and Determinism in Aristotelian ethics in Le Style de la Pense: Recueil de texts en hommage Jacques Brunschwig, Ed.
Monique Canto-Sperber and Pierre Pellegrin (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2002): 267-295.
PArch 2,11,4 (SC 252).
For a discussion of the relationship between weariness of contemplation and the fall, see
Harl, Recherches, 213 and Georgios Lekkas, Libert et Progrs chez Origne (Belgium:
Brepols, 2001): 160.
PArch 3,1,20 (SC 268).
ComJn 20,23, 188-9 (SC 290).
PArch 3,1,20 (SC 268). frequently is translate simply as will or the will,
rather than the more general desire. There is a plethora of modern denitions of the will,
and within the scope of antiquity, the problem is compounded by vague terminology or
lack thereof and the question of whether there was a concept of will. In searching for a fully
articulated view of will as an independent and discrete psychological construct, Dihle
is correct in noting that one does not exist in Origen (Albrecht Dihle, The Theory of the
Will in Classical Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press,): 113). However, this
is not the only conception of the will, which in a more general way can be viewed as a

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon

while is an extension of this ability directed towards an end.

However, the latter cannot be overwhelming and so may be dened as a
weak desire, because man can pursue other than knowledge of God.
further is qualied relative to the end to which it is directed.
Inferior desire is directed towards evil and by inference, superior desire is
directed towards God.23 Inferior desires can open man up to inuence
from evil, making man a son of the devil, while superior desires can make
man a son of God.24 The direction of desire is tied to the judgment of
, which is done through reason.
The judgment of is up to us ( ) and within our power
().25 Though he proposes to do so, Origen does not articulate
clearly the distinction between these two concepts, which had long been
used in philosophical circles by his time.26 Both are part of larger discussions about determinism, the voluntary, and choice, appearing with
, and . However, there are two broad categories through which these terms developed; the rst is within Stoicism
and discussions about determinism.27 The second is Aristotelian, appearing
pro-attitude towards an action. Indeed, within Origens view of action, desire contributes
to an act. See Lorenzo Perrone, Libero Arbitrio in Origene Dizionario: la cultura, il pensiero, le opere ed. Adele Monaci Castagno (Rome: Citt Nuova Editrice, 2000): 237-243
and Il cuore indurito del Faraone. Origene e il problema del libero arbitrio (Genova, Marietti:
1992), particularly A. Castagano, Linterpretazione Origeniana di Mc4, 10-12: aspettie e
problemi della difesa del libero arbitio, 85-104. For other denitions of will in ancient
philosophy, see also A.A. Long. Freedom and Determinism in the Stoic Theory of Human
Action in Problems in Stoicism ed. A. A. Long. (London: the Athlone Press, 1971): 192;
Brad Inwood. The Will in Seneca the Younger Classical Philology, 95: 45-60; Charles
Kahn. Discovering the Will: From Aristotle to Augustine in The Question of Eclecticism.
ed. John Dillon and A.A. Long. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988): 235; A.
Kenny, Aristotles Theory of the Will (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979).
ComJn 20,23, 188-9 and 20,23, 192 (SC 290).
Ibid., 20,13, 106 (SC 290).
PArch 3,1,1 (SC 268).These terms are not interchangeable within Origens thought. For
a contrary view, see Perrone, Libero, 239.
The latter is tied to the Stoic notion of freedom. See also Susanne Bobzein, Determinism
and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998): 342. Bobzein notes that
a connection between and appears in the thought of Epictetus; however, in later usage, the term is not associated with the technical sense of the
word, but is attributed to all humans, not just the sage (345). She also notes that in later
Stoic usage becomes interchangeable with (355).
In keeping with Origens own methodology, it must be noted that his larger doctrine of
freedom was highly inuenced by the Platonic tradition, including Middle Platonism.

L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

in Aristotles discussion of the voluntary in the Ethica Nichomachea and

culminating in Alexander of Aphrodisias De Fato.28

In the EN, Aristotle provides a detailed discussion of what constitutes voluntary () movement in rational beings as it relates to .29
Aristotle denes two types of actions, compulsory and voluntary. Compulsory actions have the genesis of their movement imposed from without,
whereas voluntary actions are not inhibited in any way and are therefore
within mans power.30 Voluntary actions have moral connotations and are
connected to .31 Choice is found in rational animals and is
distinct from desire, which is found in both rational and irrational creatures. Choice is inherently rational because in contrast to desire, choice is
attainable, whereas what man desires is not always possible.32
There are two aspects of choice: rst, the ability to choose and second,
the exercise of choice for a good end in a concord with rational desire. In
this sense, choice has moral connotations. Aristotle describes it as being
good or bad, depending on whether man chooses to pursue the good or

The question of Aristotelian inuence on Origen has been the topic of much recent
scholarship, which challenges the view that Origen did not utilize peripatetic philosophy.
Jackson (Sources, 13-23) notes the continuity between Origen and the Aristotelian tradition. However, he also nds similarities with the Platonic and Stoic tradition. H. Langerbeck (The Philosophy of Ammonius Saccas, The Journal of Hellenic Studies 77 (1957): 74)
contends that Ammonius Saccas was inuenced by Alexanders works. Robert Berchman
(Origen on the Categories Origeniana Quinta (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1992:
233) and Giles Dorival (Lapport dOrigne pour la connaissance de la philosophie
grecque Origeniana Quinta (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1992: 195 and 206-207)
likewise note that Origen was acquainted with Aristotelian philosophy, though perhaps
not directly through the works of Aristotle. Similarly, G. Bardy (Origne et laristotlisme,
Mlanges Gustave Glotz (Paris, 1932) 75-83) contends that while there may be Aristotelian
inuences on Origens thought, it cannot be proved that Origen read or used works
of Aristotle. Based on Cels, he questions if Origen was truly familiar with the thought of
Richard McKeon, The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 2001):
1109b30. For this citation and those following, I also consulted Aristotle, Ethica Nichomachea, I. Bywater, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894).
1110a18. Origen makes this same distinction in PArch 3,1,5 (SC 268).
EN, 1111b10.
EN, 1112a30 and 1112b15-35.

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon

apparent good.33 It is the ability to choose in this sense that Aristotle denes
as . This is a precursor to the exercise of choice and part of deliberation; what is up to man is to direct his choice towards virtue or vice (the
good or the apparent good) and it is this aspect that is subject to praise or
censure.34 Alexander of Aphrodisias reiterates this point in De Fato; the
voluntary and what depends on us are two separate things. Assenting without coercion to an impression is voluntary but assent with reason and
judgment is .

Within later writers, was used to denote the power to act and was
connected to . As a derivative of this, retains its early
connection with action, and it is often used interchangeably with ,
both indicating the ability to choose freely. indicates the ability
to make a voluntary, moral judgment, and from that, the responsibility to
choose accordingly. However, the duty to act virtuously, while up to man,
is the second part of a two-fold process. The ability to move voluntarily
precedes that of choosing.
rst appears in philosophical thought initially in Stoic
circles.35 It is used for the most part in later Stoicism and middle Platonism
interchangeably with to denote the power to choose or to assent.36
In Epictetus Dissertationes, he uses to denote what is within
our power: ;
; ,
.37 This ability is contrasted with the power of
someone over oneself and is tied to the Stoic notion of freedom. It is necessary to know what is in our power to ensure that man desires only those
things that are within his power to acquire.38


EN, 1114b.
EN, 1113b.5 See also, T.H. Irwin, Who Discovered the Will? Philosophical Perspectives 6 (1992) 463.
Bobzein, Determinism, 350.
Ibid., 355.
Epictetus, Dissertationes ab Arriano digestae, in Epicteti dissertationes ab Arriano digestae.
(Leipzig: Teubner, 1916): 4,1,56. Does it seem to you that this freedom is in our power
and independent? How not? Then, whoever it is of another to hinder and compel, say he is
not free.
Bobzein, 342.


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

Authors such as Josephus use to denote power in a general

way, not associated with moral judgments or assent.39 Philo, also, uses the
term in this sense, though he does connect it to the power of God in a few
instances.40 However, it is in the usage of Alexander of Aphrodisias that
is dened as separate from .
From the third century, writing contemporaneously with Origen, Alexander of Aphrodisias produced an elegant rebuttal to determinism in his
Aristotelian commentary, De Fato, which, among other aspects, challenged
the view that Aristotle was a determinist.41 Alexander provides a clear articulation of the relationship between and . Beginning
with the nature argument, which holds that mans nature determines his
actions, Alexander questions its implications, namely that virtues or vices
(and their acquisition) are a result of nature. For Alexander, saying man is
either good or bad because of necessity removes responsibility from individuals and places it with nature. The conclusion is that nature therefore is
responsible for good and evil:
;42 Continuing from this,
the nature argument contends that those things that are in mans power
namely assentare based on nature and causality. Alexander argues proponents of this theory must conclude that man is not responsible for his
actions.43 For the Stoics, the answer rested in assenting correctly to impressions (). However this is insucient for Alexander who contends the
nature argument takes away from mans culpability.44 As noted by Aristotle
in the EN, man would not deliberate about things that he had no control
over but only those things he could change. Therefore, something of the
action must be up to man, namely the power or ability to act and judge
actions. Alexander points out that the Stoics are discussing two concepts
Josephus, De bello Judaico libri vii Flavii Iosephi opera, B. Niese, v 6 (Berlin: Weidmann,
1895): 2,134,2; 1,288,3; 3,386,2 ; Contra Apionem, Flavii Iosephi opera, B. Niese v5.
Berlin: Weidmann, 1889):1,37,1; 2,173,5.
Philo, De Plantatione, Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, P. Wendland v2 (Berlin:
Reimer, 1897):46.4 and De Josepho, Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, L. Cohn v4
(Berlin: Reimer, 1902):148,5.
See Natali, 267 and 291-4.
De Fato, R. Sharples, Alexander of Aphrodisias On Fate (London: Duckworth, 1983):
199,12. How will they not agree that mans nature has made him the most evil of all living
De Fato, 181,7.
De Fato,183,21-26.

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


without realizing it. The rst concept is , while the second is

: ,
, .45 The
two are intrinsically connected: is a result of .
still denotes the voluntary, but in Alexanders usage, it is an
essential precursor to and action. Action and mans responsibility
rest on the ability to choose and make moral choices.
Christian Usage
This distinction does not appear in many early Christian authors discussions about action and choice, though the terms are used periodically.46
While he tends to use in his discussions about volition, Clement of Alexandria occasionally mentions and . In
Clement, is used to signify the power and ability of the mind
to choose. It is frequently connected to arguments about the origin of evil:
, .47 Clement is consistent with other writers in connecting with a moral choice, reason
and assent.48 He also distinguishes between types of voluntary actions, or
rather the impetus for voluntary actions:
.49 All four result in dierent
types of sin, and all three are liable to judgment. Sinning, or avoiding it, is
something that Clement says is most denitely . Man comes to
recognize the truth through the acquisition of knowledge of the truth, or
through contemplation. Once he has acquired such knowledge, his reason
controls his actions. Volition is placed under the control of reason.
De Fato, 182,20-25. For those asking them, how is it possible that what is up to us is
to be saved if all things are according to fate, do not demand this, setting forth only the
name of what is up to us, but also that being signied, what is in our power.
Irenaeus, Sancti Irenaei episcopi Lugdunensis libri quinque adversus haereses, W.W. Harvey
v1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1857): 1,1,11, frag. 21,17, frag.22,52,
frag.26,8 and Hippolytus, Refutatio omnium haeresium, Patristische Texte und Studien,
M. Marcovich, 25 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1986): 1,21,2; 10,33,9.
Strom, 1, 17, 83 (v2). The devil, being in his own power, was able to repent and
deceive, and he was the cause of deceit, not the Lord, who did not hinder him. See also,
Quis dives salvetur 14,4-5.
Strom, 2,15,69 (v2).
Strom, 2,15,62 (v2). What is voluntary is either by desire, by choice or by intention.


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

Of the connection between the two terms, Clement states in the Strom
that depends on .50 Given that, he constructs a reciprocal schema of intellectual advancement. allows us to
advance in knowledge of God, and the centrality of as a moral
judgment is clear. Both, however, are aspects of the soul and connected to
salvation. While Clements construction diers from that of Alexander, it
is signicant that the two terms are not seen as interchangeable.51
Albeit the discussion in Clement is tertiary to his larger aims, and to a
lesser degree the same be said of Alexander, the context is similar. In the
pertinent passages from the Strom, Clements argument occurs within a
larger discussion about nature and action. In a strikingly similar discussion
to book III of PArch, Clement notes the roles of in the movement of irrational beings and the way in which they can be used by evil
powers to deceive and mark the soul.52 He specically cites Basilides and
Valentinus as ones who hold that the soul is a virtual slave to either
or nature. Likewise, Alexander is refuting determinism and the
idea that action is imposed from without.
From this, we may conclude that the late second and early third centuries were witness to discussions about responsibility, evil and determinism.
The need to address these dual problems became increasingly acute for
Christians during this time. Certain groups, including Gnostics, claimed
that some men were saved by nature. The reconciliation of a good creator
with the fact of evil, while it has a long history in philosophical circles,
appeared in attacks on Christian theology.
This assertion further is supported when we turn to Origen. In book III
of PArch, Origen challenges the view that natures are determined and man
is saved (or condemned) by virtue of his nature, not his actions. To do so,
Origen constructs a new theory of volition. His use of and
is a unique combination of that found in prior usage. Origen
distinguishes the two terms, holding they represent two connected, but
separate concepts: is an extension of . Both are central
to Origens defense of mans freedom to choose. For Origen, as for Clement, both are connected to the properties of the soul and therefore, salvation.

Strom, 5,13, 83 (v2).

Floyd contends and are synonymous in Clement, though he
notes that both are loaded terms. W.E.G. Floyd, Clement of Alexandrias Treatment of the
Problem of Evil. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971): 29.
Strom, 2,20,110-111 (v2).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


From God, man has , a power that is an imperfect reection

of Gods power.53 For example, in the case of Pharaoh, God did not make
Pharaoh act, because to do this would take away his and thus
make God responsible for evil.54 Rather, it was an instance of Gods foreknowledge regarding Pharaohs actions. If God makes man act in a certain
way, then it is not up to man to avoid wickedness. The ability to act is
inherent to man and other classes of rational creatures, including angels,
stars, demons and the devil. is the power of the soul to choose,
or the power of the soul over voluntary movement.55 In the HomJer Origen
reiterates this, by saying that is freedom.56 It is a voluntary act
that is neither determined nor restricted by God.
Because all souls possess , Pharaoh always possessed the
power to choose virtue; when God hardened Pharaohs heart, he was presenting Pharaoh with a learning opportunity.57 Pharaoh could have acted
dierently, but instead of learning, he turned his back on the chance. Pharaohs hard heart is a result of his own wickedness, stemming from his
choices and not determined by God.58 Origen likens Pharaoh to a rock
that has become buried in the earth. Seeds may well grow in the soil above
it, but are unable to take a rm root. A mans soul may likewise become so
hardened that good things or opportunities fail to grow.59 God may extend
his grace, but in conjunction with that, it is up to man to live virtuously.60
By this, Origen challenges the argument put forth by some groups that
claim man cannot act other than by his nature.61 If natures are ruined,


Prin, 3,1,20 (SC 268).

See Marguerite Harl, La Mort Salutaire du Pharaon selon Origne in Le Dchirement
du Sens: tudes sur lhermneutique chrtienne dOrigne Grgoire de Nysse. (Paris: Institute
dtudes Augustinennes, 1993):267-277.
See also, PArch 3,1,1; 3,1,5 and 3,1,20 (SC 268).
HomJer, 18,3,16 (SC 232). See also, 18,6,84 and 18,6,87.
See also, ComSon, 2,1 (SC 375) and HomGen 1,1-3 (SC 7 bis).
PArch, 3,1,7-8 (SC 268).
PArch 3,1,14 (SC 268).
PArch, 3,1,12 and 3,1,19-20 (SC 268). See Benjamin Drewery, Origen and the Doctrine
of Grace (The Epworth Press: London, 1960) and H. Koch, Pronoia und Paideusis: Studien
ber Origenes und sein Verhltnis zum Platonismus (New York: Garland Publishing, 1979).
Origen takes up a more thorough challenge to this point of view in the ComJn 20,23-25
(SC 290). For a fuller discussion, see Jerey A. Trumbower, Origens Exegesis of John
8:19-53: The Struggle with Heracleon over the idea of Fixed Natures Vigiliae Christianae
43 (1989): 138-154. See also, PArch 3,1,10; 3,1,5; 3,1,8 and 3,1,23 (SC 268).


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

there can be neither nor ; thus, those who apply this

logic to Pharaoh imply that God is the author of evil.
While man has the power () to choose, it is not according
to this power that man is judged, but how he exercises this power, for virtue or vice: .62 is the
moral judgment of potential acts and is a precursor to action:

, .63

It is on this aspect of choice that man can be judged. Thus, Origens view
of volition is a process: man has the power () to choose actions
based on whether they are virtuous or not and act accordingly ( ).
If man did not have the power inherently, then he would not be responsible for his judgments.

IV. Previous Causes

Origens theory of volition has implications for his views on previous causes
( ), particularly as it relates to his reading of the biblical
story of Jacob and Esau.64 For many, it seemed to suggest arbitrariness on
behalf of God and the imposition of movement from without.65 However,
for Origen, just as Pharaoh did not act as a result of his nature or Gods
arbitrariness, neither were Jacob and Esau chosen randomly as vehicles for
honor or dishonor.
While man can act for either good or evil, Origen held that man had an
ineable desire to know God.66 However, this desire for God is not overwhelming, in that man can (and will) choose evil. The actuality of mans
volition is the genesis of the fall of souls and their subsequent incarnation.


PArch, 3,1,6 (SC 268). Because it is our work to live well.

PArch, 3,1,5 (SC 268). Therefore, reason shows that external things are not up to us,
but to use them thus or otherwise, because we have received reason as a judge and examiner
of how we ought to approach each external thing; that is our business.
PArch 3,1,9 (SC 268). As to the pre-existence of Jacob and Esau, see Marguerite Harl,
La Prexistence des mes dans loeuvre dOrigene in Le Dchirement du Sens: tudes sur
lhermneutique chrtienne dOrigne Grgoire de Nysse (Institute dtudes Augustiniennes,
Paris, 1993): 247-268.
PArch 1,7,4 (SC 252).
PArch, 2,11,4 (SC 252).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


The movement of souls towards (or away from) God is a result of their
moral choices, which is . Given that all souls have the same abilities, all souls possess the same potential. Origen contends that souls, be
they of man or of demons, can advance or regress in progress towards
knowledge of God.67 The moral choices that man makes determined his
current position in life.
The status of souls in this world a result of .68 While
Origens view is not clear in the PArch, in later works he connects
to Gods foreknowledge: mans current state was determined by God based on his foreknowledge.69 Origen is quick to point out
that man cannot accomplish this alone. Advancement is a combination of
mans choices and Gods grace.70 It is a process of learning from sins and
being puried as a result.71
Prior to its incarnation, the soul was termed an understanding.72 It had
the ability to think freely; the object of its thought was not imposed from
without by God. For this reason, good or evil are not essential qualities of
understandings, but accidental ones. When, due to slothfulness, the understandings began to contemplate things other than God, they turned from
goodness: Recedendi autem causa in eo erit, si non recte et probabiliter dirigatur motus animarum. Uoluntarios enim et liberos motus a se conditis mentibus creator indulsit, quo scilicet bonum in eis proprium eret, cum id uoluntate
propria seruaretur.73 As a result, they became distanced from God, falling

See also PArch 3,1,21 and 3,1,7 (SC 268).

PArch 3,1,22 (SC 268). See also, PArch 3,1,21 and 3,1,23 (SC 268). On the number of
souls, see PArch 3,1,14 (SC 268).
For a fuller discussion, see Harl, La Prexistence, 261-2. This is not the same as the
Stoic doctrine of nature as it relates to determinism. Previous causes do not determine
mans actions but themselves are a result of mans choices. They determine mans status in
the current life, not his ability to act.
PArch 3,1,12 (SC 268). God presents man with multiple opportunities to learn from his
sins; in this way, he is a teacher, who extends his grace. See also, PArch 3,1,15-16; 3,1,18
and 3,1,24 (SC 268).
See also Celia Rabinowitz, Personal and Cosmic Salvation in Origen Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984): 324.
Given the emphasis Origen places on contemplation of God as a means of spiritual
advancement, I feel that understanding is a more accurate term than mind for the state
of beings before the fall. See Crouzels discussion, Origen, 55.
PArch 2,9,2 (SC 252). But the cause of the withdrawal will be in this: if the moving of
the mind is not rightly and worthily directed. That is to say, the creator granted voluntary
and free movement to the minds formed by him; it is certain that the good in them will


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

eventually into an embodied state.74 In proportion to their lack of contemplation, the understandings became angels, men or demons. However,
God presents man with many opportunities to recognize his sin and learn
from it; it is in this way that man can progress.75 Through Gods teaching
and mans contemplation of the lesson, man is made cognizant of his
own sin.76
Of the many varieties of incarnated beings, some fell further than others
from God. Within this group are powers, demons and lastly, the devil. As
with other beings, the latter arrived at their present state because of the
choices they made, namely turning from God to a greater degree than
other incarnated beings. None were created evil but choose to pursue evil.77
Evil, in and of itself, does not have a substantial reality in PArch, but rather
has its genesis in the free choices of man; Origen denes it as the absence
of good.78 Origen suggests that men who have fallen so far are on a continuous progress towards wickedness, being possessed by the desire for
wickedness, which is an inability to learn and use reason.79 This does not,
however, preclude hope of a return. Just as powers regressed to a state of
wickedness, so too can they return to a state of blessedness.80

become their own, since it was preserved by their own desire. In the ComJn 1,16,91
(SC120), Origen states that when they were rational beings, souls only contemplated God.
See Harl, Recherches sur lorignisme dOrigne, 191-223; Henri Crouzel, Lanthropologie dOrigne: de larch au telos, in Arch e Telos: Lantropologia di Origene e di Gregorio di Nissa Analisi storico-religiosa. Ed.Vita E. Pensiero (Milan: Universit Cattolica del
Sacro Cuore, 1981): 42-45.
It is thereby incarnated into the world of matter. Origen describes this as being cast
forth from God.
Within the material world are the precursors to sin, the temptations that can lead man
to sin, such as luxury. Through such immoderation, souls are led to sin and fall further from
God. It is also in this manner that souls fall under the inuence of the devil and demons,
who are able to gain control over incarnated beings through their infatuation with the
material world. As with good powers, evil powers can only present options to man; it is up
to man whether or not he chooses to act according to this inuence.
PArch 3,1,17 (SC 268).
PArch 1,5,3 (SC 252).
Crouzel, Origen, 262. In later works, Origen struggles to reconcile the universality of
the with the idea of eternal punishment. Crouzel holds that he reverses his
position in PArch and suggests that demons may suer eternally (Origen, 265).
PArch 1,8,4 (SC 252). See also PArch 3,6,2 (SC 268) and 1,5,5 (SC 252).
PArch 1,6,3 (SC 252).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


V. Two Extremes: Satan and Christ

In the PArch there are two instances of souls that are unique in that they
do not follow the cycle of progression and regression, but remain in a xed
position. The souls of Christ and Satan, though polar opposites, do not t
into the schema Origen establishes for all other beings.81 The soul of the
devil began as any other soul, with the same powers and freedoms. As with
other souls, the devil was not predetermined to be either good or evil; such
would take away from individual accountability.82 The devil lost his place
because he failed to acknowledge Gods grace and began to attribute his
status to his own eorts: , ,
, .83 After his fall,
the devil consistently choose to pursue evil: Sicut ergo iste habuit quidem in
se uel uirtutis recipiendae uel malitiae facultatem et a uirtute declinans tota se
mente conuertit ad malum: ita etiam ceterae creaturae cum utriusque habeant
facultatem, pro arbitrii libertate refugientes malum, adhaerent bono.84 However, Origen says that though the devil retains the ability (),
he does not have the desire to choose good: Secundum nos namque ne
diabolus quidem ipse incapax fuit boni, non tamen idcirco quia potuit recipere
bonum, etiam uoluit uel uirtuti operam dedit.85
Origen must defend the devils freedom to choose, which leaves open
the possibility that the devil could do otherwise. By attempting to give the
devil the power to choose, but not the desire, Origen created a seeming
contradiction that he did not attempt to address in PArch: in short, how
does the devil possess the ability, but not the desire to choose the good, and


See Crouzel, 100 (SC 253, note 11).

PArch 1,5,5 (SC 252).
PArch, 3,1,12 (SC 268). This, we think will be the reason for a fall; this produces conceit and arrogance which we recognized concerning the devil, attributing to himself the
superiority he enjoyed when he was sinless. See also PArch 1,7,5 (SC 252). In the ComJn
1,17,97 (SC 120), Origen says that the devil was the rst soul to fall.
PArch 1,8,3 (SC 252). So on account of this, having received in himself the capability
of virtue or vice, and turning away from virtue, he turned his entire mind towards evil; in
this way, other creatures, having the capability for both, because of free will, ee evil and
adhere to good.
PArch 1,8,3 (SC 252). Next, in our opinion, not even the devil himself was incapable
of good, but this does not entail that, because he could receive the good, he also wanted it
or applied himself to virtue.


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

if he has the ability, why doesnt he exercise it? While Origen does not say
explicitly, he does provide an analogy in the form of Christs soul, which
similarly has the ability, but not the desire to choose evil.
The soul of Christ is unique; because Origen terms it as a soul, rather
than an understanding, Origen suggests that it has fallen from its state of
understanding, though he later holds that some understandings did not
fall.86 The fact of Christs incarnation was problematic for many reasons,
and Origen seems to be mostly concerned with a change in the nature of
Christ by virtue of his incarnation. The soul of Christ loved Christ to a
greater degree than any other soul: Quod autem dilectionis perfectio et meri
aectus sinceritas hanc ei inseparabilem cum deo fecerit unitatem ita ut non
fortuita fuerit aut cum personae acceptione animae eius assumptio, sed uirtutum suarum ei merito delata.87 By its superior virtue, the soul of Christ is
chosen.88 This love was so exemplary and extreme, that the soul of Christ
experienced a change of nature: ut quod in arbitrio erat positum longi usus
aectu iam uersum sit in naturam.89 Thus it was impossible for Christ to
choose vice because his nature would not allow it: ita et fuisse quidem in
Christo humana et rationabilis anima credenda est, et nullum sensum uel possibilitatem eam putandum est habuisse peccati.90
Nature is a descriptive term that is used in a variety of ways.91 Origen
holds that souls may choose to act for good or evil by virtue of their nature.
This is not to say that souls act because of their nature, a claim Origen
denies. Nature is not a controlling principle. To Origen, there is no such
thing as a bad nature that makes a person choose to act for vice. Claiming


PArch 3,1,23 (SC 268). In the ComJn (20, 19, 162), Origen suggests that the soul
of Christ was in God. Cadiou (Origen: His Life at Alexandria. Trans. John A. Southwell
(St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co.,1944): 247-248) notes that the soul of Jesus is a soul like
any other except it is rst among souls, capable of choosing good or evil.
PArch 2,6,4 (SC 252). However, because of its perfect love and the sincerity of its
excessive aection, its taking up was neither chance nor the result of a personal preference,
but was given by the merit of its virtues.
PArch 2,6,4-5 (SC 252).
PArch 2,6,5 (SC 252). What was dependent upon the will was changed by long experience into nature. See also, Rowan Williams, The Soul of Christ Origeniana Tertia (Rome:
Edizioni DellAtteneo, 1981): 133.
PArch 2,6,5 (SC 252). We must believe there existed in Christ a human and rational
soul, without supposing it had the susceptibility or possibility of sin.
Origen composed a treatise on nature while at Alexandria which has been lost. Nautin
holds that it refuted Gnostic theories of three natures (Origne, 370-1).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


this denies mans free choice and makes God the author of evil. Rather,
nature is a result of action and more akin to habit or character. However,
natures can become disposed towards good or evil, depending upon the
choices one makes.
If nature does not dictate or control mans actions, what is its role in
choice? In his discussion of Christ, Origen notes that not only is nature
connected to choice, but that choices inuence nature. While Origen
denied all souls act by nature in book III, it was on the grounds that this
denied , which is tied to moral choices. However, to say this about
Christ does not deny the presence of . Christs soul so perpetuated itself to choosing virtue, that while it remained a soul, retaining
both and , consistently choosing virtue habituated
Christs soul so as to make the choice of vice impossible.
Thus, it would seem that consistently choosing goodness can make the
choice of evil impossible. However, the question as to how this is possible
remains, given Origens emphasis on free choice. Crouzel holds that nature
can be habituated to the point that it blocks the exercise of free will; in the
ComJn, he notes that Origen even coins the neologism ,
this person has thus natured himself.92 Crouzel takes this to mean that
Origen implied that there were two natures inherent in man, and second
nature could determine action. This interpretation depends on translating
as actual nature, and thereby seeing nature as a distinct facet
that can inuence or even determine choice. In this passage of the ComJn,
Origen is discussing the ambiguity of John 8:44 in response to Heracleons
assertion that some men can be of the same essence as the devil. Origen
contends that, contrary to Heracleon, the antichrist is not evil in his substance and to argue that aspect would remove responsibility for evil. Rather,
using Ezekiel, he holds that through choice () and change
() a person can dispose oneself or nature oneself to act for evil:
, ,
, .93 in this context is
referring to nature in the sense that it is a habitual way of acting that
originates through right choice and action. Though not a common term,

Crouzel, Origen, 262. See also, Crouzel, SC 253: 99.

ComJn 20,21,174 (SC 290). And someone is of the lie not by his substance from creation, but by change and his choice, having become of such a kind, has thus, if I may use a
new word, natured himself.



L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

it is used in the same way by Aristotle in the Categoriae to describe how a

disposition can become a second nature () or a habit, which
is a long lasting tendency towards certain types of action.94 However, in
both Aristotle and Origens use, does not determine action.95
The types of choices man makesto act for good or evilbecome habitual and in this sense, are parts of mans nature.96 In other words, if a man
consistently acts for ill, then sinning becomes like a second nature or a
habit. Man is responsible for evaluating every action and desire he has in
order to determine if it is good or evil.97 Habit may inuence this choice,
but it does not determine it.98
Consistently choosing goodness is both a product and reection of
learning. The more one chooses goodness, it may be argued, the more one
is able to recognize goodness. As man progresses in this knowledge, his
capacity to choose evil diminishes. Origen uses the example of two men
tempted by a beautiful woman. Both men seek to lead a virtuous life; however, one gives into temptation, whereas the other is able to resist because
his reason controls his action. Though both men desire virtue, only the
second man can resist vice.99 The contrary would be true: if man consistently chooses evil, he will be habituated to choosing evil.
Why do men seek goodness? In the PArch, Origen says that man has an
innate longing to know God that is stimulated by a curiosity to understand the cause of the material world.100 He compares it to the need to the

Aristotle, Aristotelis categoriae et liber de interpretatione L. Minio-Paluello (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1949): 9a2.
For a fuller discussion, see Natali, 277-9. He contends that character or habit was not
an arbitrary factor for action in Aristotles thought. Rather, it could inuence the types of
desires a man may have but mans choices are not determined by character.
For a further discussion on the tradition of choice becoming habit or second nature in
Greek thought, see Jean Bouartigue, LEmpereur Julien et la Culture de son Temps (Paris:
Institut dtudes Augustiniennes, 1992): 280-281.
ComJn, 20,22,181 (SC 290), PArch, 3,1,3 (SC 268).
Throughout the PArch, Origen refers consistently to a key aspect of salvation: it is done
neither through Gods grace or mans eorts alone, but requires both. Gods grace is
extended in the form of learning opportunities, as in the case of Pharaoh. God presents
instances to man to learn what is good, and it is up to man to choose the good. When man
does not, as in the case of Pharaoh, while God continues to extend opportunities to learn,
choosing evil can have a punitive eect. See also, HomJer, 6,2-4 (SC 232).
PArch 3,1,4 (SC 268).
PArch 2,11,4 (SC 252).

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


eye for light in order to see or the need of the body for nourishment. The
search for causes, and therefore God, is what the mind does by virtue of its
being a mind. In the HomGen, Origen says that through contemplation of
God, man will become more like him.101 Contrarily, if man contemplates
the devil (or evil), he will become like him, taking the form of evil.102
As noted above, there are two types of desire: the ability of the soul to
desire ( ) and directed desire towards good or evil as a consequence
of choice (). Repeated direction of desire towards good or evil
becomes habitual. , though it proceeds from , can
inuence choice depending on whether it is directed towards good or evil.
If Satan has a soul like any other, it follows that Satan also must have the
same ability to desire and to direct his desire. However, his desire is mitigated by two factors. Firstly, desire is not overwhelming in that it determines action. Secondly, as one does evil, one becomes, at least for the time
in which one is either desiring or doing evil, a son of the devil; in short, the
mind is like that which it is contemplating.103 For most men, this is a temporary state, reected in the fact that men can sin and then do good.
However, Satan is dierent in the degree by which he pursues evil: Origen
says that the devil turned his whole mind towards evil.104 Other creatures
such as demons have done something similar in that they have abandoned
themselves to wickedness and so lack the desire, rather than the power, to
return: Et est alter iste ordo rationabilis creaturae, qui se ita praeceps nequitiae
dedit, ut reuocari nolit magis quam non posit, dum scelerum rabies iam libido
est et delectat.105 Their minds are consumed with all that is contrary to
Even though the devil has deceived himself, he is in no sense a victim
and is culpable for his actions because he technically could still admit
goodness.106 If Origens claims that he did not propose salvation for the
devil are to be believed, I would argue that the soul of Satan is in a similar
state to that of Christ: it retains its power to choose (), but


HomGen1,13 (SC 7 bis).

ComJn 20,13,106. (SC 290). See also, HomGen 1, 13 (SC 7 bis).
Lekkas, 156 and 195.
PArch, 1,8,3 (SC 252).
PArch, 1,8,4 (SC 252). Thus, there is the other order of rational creatures, who have
completely dedicated themselves to wickedness so that they are unwilling, not unable, to
return, so long as the madness of their wickedness is a desire and a pleasure.
PArch 3,1,12 (SC 268). For the devils deception, see ComJn 20,27,244 (SC 290).


L.R. Holliday / Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009) 1-23

because Satan has consistently chosen evil, and turned his whole mind
towards this end, the moral choice ( ) of good is impossible because
his mind is consumed with evil. Thus, Satan does not possess the
for goodness, which incites a longing to know God, and cannot as long as
Satans mind is in this state.
In the nal restoration, when God is all in all, where then does that
leave the devil?107 Because he cannot choose the good, does this mean that
he cannot admit goodness? When discussing the , Origen
says it is at this time that the last enemy death shall be destroyed.108 Death
is a personication of the devil; though Origen does not state this explicitly here, he does in the Hom Lev.109 The nature of the devils destruction is
twofold: he will cease to be a threat to man.110 Secondarily, by not choosing the good, the devil is not participating in immortality. While Origen
does not believe that souls are inherently immortal or mortal, they can
partake of immortality through their participation in God. When the devil
does not do this, he becomes mortal and is subject to death. Origen goes
on to note that substance is not destroyed, only the soul. Souls have
returned to their former state as rational beings and do not think of either
the material world or the devil: they are lled with God.111
However, Origen ultimately is neither clear nor consistent with this
view of the , though he presents the above tentatively in

Origens theory of the caused no small amount of controversy. The

origins of this theory are unclear, and given that Origen liked to borrow freely from a variety of philosophers without adhering to a single one, it probably is representative of an
amalgam of views. Patrides notes that the concept of does not originate
with Origen. The term appears in Acts 3:21, as well as in the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria. Maria-Barbara von Stritzky traces it to Platonic philosophy. Origen, along with
Plotinus, built from the Platonic teachings of Ammonius Saccas. (Die Bedeutung der
Pahidrosinterpretation fur die Apokatastasislehre des Origenes Vigiliae Christianae
31(1977): 282-297.) See also Rabinowitz, 321-322 and A. Mehat, Apocatastase, Origne,
Clment dAlexandrie, act. 3,21 Vigiliae Christianae 10 (1956): 196-214. For the return
of all things to God, see also Cant, Prologue and PArch 3,6,3 (SC 268).
PArch, 3,6,5 (SC 268).
HomLev 9,11, 25 (SC 287). See also, Crouzel, Origen, 262.
PArch 1,6 (SC 132). See also Cels 8,72 (SC 150) where Origen holds that the destruction of evil marks the end of all things.
See Crouzel, Origen, 263-264 and LApocatastase chez Origne in Origeniana Quarta:
Die Referate des 4. Internationalen Origenskongresses ed. L. Lies (Innsbruck: Tyrolia Verlag,
1987): 282-290.

Will Satan Be Saved? Reconsidering Origens Theory of Volition in Peri Archon


PArch.112 Contrary to the theories proposed in the PArch, in Cels 6,44 Origen says that Satan became destruction () and citing Ezekiel 28,19,
holds that Satan will not exist for eternity.113 Along with this, Crouzel
notes that Origen also wavers on the universality of the fall: some creatures
did not fall, and thus, there is a question of a universal return.114 If the
is universal, then the only way in which the devil would
not be saved is if his substance was destroyed, a point Origen expressly
denies. On the other hand, if the is not universal, as the
fall was not, then the devil would not be saved.

VI. Conclusion
As it relates to the salvation of the devil, Origen created two problems in
PArch: rstly by stating that the devil could choose goodness, but did not
desire it, and secondly, by suggesting that the could be
universal. Indeed, though the devil retained the ability (), his
consistent choosing of evil ( ) became habitual to the point where
evil was the only viable choice. And, if the devil could not desire and therefore admit goodness, salvation was impossible.
However, Origens view of the presents a dierent problem because he is unclear as to whether it is universal or not. If the
is not universal, the devil will not be saved. On the other
hand, if it is, there is the possibility that Origens description of the
could be dierent, that death could be defeated because
the devil was restored to God. Ultimately, by his own speculations, Origen
forces himself into a corner, and the views he presents on the salvation of
Satan are contradictory.

See also, John Sachs, Apocatastasis in Patristic Theology Theological Studies 54 (1993):
(SC 147).
Crouzel, Origen, 257-264.